Wednesday, October 21, 1998
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
What's wrong with liking Goldberg?
I have been reading web pages such as SLAM! Wrestling for two years now, pretty much because I like wrestling, plain and simple. I enjoy them because they provide behind-the-scenes information about my favourite feds (i.e. WWF and WCW) and they give me a little insight about what how other fans like myself feel about certain wrestlers, angles and the like. However, the one thing that has always bothered me ever since I began to use the Internet to keep current in the world of wrestling is that some fans (in my opinion) take their interest in wrestling a little too seriously at times. I know that these are the minority rather than the majority, and that even these people are just taking the opportunity to share their opinions, but I still feel that sometimes SOME of these people are so negative about wrestlers simply because they set their standards so high. A perfect case in point of a wrestler victimized by this is one Bill Goldberg:
I want to start off by saying two things:
1.Yes, I like Bill Goldberg as a wrestler.
2.No, he is not the soundest technical wrestler to ever don a pair of tights.
Now that I have that out of the way, I can go on with my story. Ever since Goldberg became such a hot commodity about nine or so months ago, it seems that the entire wrestling fan community either thinks Goldberg is the best thing since sliced bread, or that he is such a "stiff" wrestler, he is probably not even coordinated enough to slice bread. Using the posted opinions of fans across the Internet as an indicator, there doesn't seem to be any middle ground among fans. My one question is this:
What's the big deal?
For starters, he isn't the smoothest wrestler in the ring: but what some people are ignoring is that he isn't the stiffest either. He doesn't have as many moves as Dean Malenko, but his repertoire consists of more than an eye-rake and a guillotine leg drop. (Can you pick out the reference?) Off the top of my head, he's got his finisher, his spear, a standing sidekick and that leg-scissors-type submission move he does; so that's four moves to start with. Between those moves and his usual collection of double axe-handles and press slams, he can usually string a match together. While his matches are almost always short, when he has fought in matches over ten minutes, they usually come out pretty good. For a couple of references, see Goldberg vs. Saturn (can't remember which PPV) and Goldberg vs. Raven (US title, and not a bad match in my own opinion). So for my own reasons, I don't buy that he is utterly devoid of wrestling talent. Yes, he has room for improvement, but no, he doesn't deserve to be banished to a leper colony.
Also, some say he can't cut a good interview. Once again, I see their point somewhat. He isn't as captivating as Ric Flair, as funny as Mankind or as exciting as Steve Austin. However, he's not that bad. I saw his one interview that he gave on Nitro and I liked it; especially because he didn't try to do too much with it. He's not as practiced as Flair, Mankind or Austin (among others) and he was smart enough to recognize it. He did a small piece, didn't overact, and got his message across. It wasn't an Academy Award-winning performance, but it got the job done. To sum it up, a friend of mine put it best. He told me: "If you watch the interview and don't expect too much, you'll probably think it was good. But if you build up your expectations to the point where you're waiting for the best interview ever, chances are you'll be disappointed". We both agreed that the one problem with Goldberg finally speaking in an interview was that anything less than the ultimate speech would disappoint people because of the way that WCW announcers have characterized him (i.e. as a savior-of-WCW type).
Finally, the other major criticism of Goldberg is that he hasn't wrestled enough of the big names; or more specifically, he's never "jobbed". This is the one point for which Goldberg cannot be blamed. It is common knowledge that wrestlers don't write story lines (unless their name is Hollywood Hogan); management does. Goldberg merely wrestles when and where he's told.
In my opinion, I think Goldberg is a good wrestler and I find him to be entertaining. I like it when he absolutely mauls an opponent. I don't mind that sometimes his walk up to the ring takes longer than some of his matches. I think he is okay with a microphone; and with some experience, I think he will get even better. What I like best about Goldberg is his presence; that indefinable quality that he brings with him whenever he shows up to the ring. This presence; or mass appeal, is what attracts the attention of millions of fans. It can't be taught, it can't be faked; and it is the one quality that separates Goldberg from other wrestlers like him (i.e. big men who rely on power moves when wrestling). If it could be taught or faked, wrestlers like Rick Fuller (a large man in his own right) would be headlining rather than… well, to put it nicely, not headlining.
So, the last thing to discuss is why some wrestlers, and Goldberg in particular, are getting a bad rap? In my opinion, there is an explanation. With the large number of fans on the Internet now, there are some that wish to establish themselves as "legitimate fans"; and the best way to do that is to extol the virtues of those wrestlers who best fit the purist image of what a wrestler should be. On the other hand, those who do not fit this image end up receiving the scorn of these "legitimate fans". Also, unfortunately, it is all too common for some to attempt to establish credibility by trying to demolish someone else's; especially a wrestler in a high position like Goldberg's.
The way I see it, anyone should be able to express his or her own opinions without having to resort to violent critiques of wrestlers per se. A person's knowledge of wrestling or "legitimacy" as a fan will shine through their own words whether or not they decide to cut up this wrestler's inability to perform a hurricarana or that wrestler's total lack of mic skills. If you want to make your voice heard; speak, don't yell.
Domenic Trotti is from Rexdale, Ontario. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org